USDA 2015 Guidelines Acknowledge Barriers to Access

Fruits & Vegetables

By Jean Blish Siers *

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest dietary guidelines for the American people. There was good news for some of us (Yippee, eggs are good!) but bad news for all of us: According to USDA data, about half of American adults (or 117 million people) have one or more preventable chronic disease. And about two-thirds of us (nearly 155 million people) are overweight or obese. (You can read their executive summary here.) This isn’t something, obviously, happening to someone else. We all have a stake in improving the health outcomes for everyone.

The newest guidelines stress the dangers of too much sugar, too many refined carbohydrates, and processed foods in general. It sites nutrition experts who find that we would benefit from replacing those processed foods with simple, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. “Poor dietary patterns, overconsumption of calories, and physical inactivity directly contribute to these disorders. Second, individual nutrition and physical activity behaviors and other health-related lifestyle behaviors are strongly influenced by personal, social, organizational, and environmental contexts and systems. Positive changes in individual diet and physical activity behaviors, and in the environmental contexts and systems that affect them, could substantially improve health outcomes.”

It’s great that the report acknowledges barriers to access: “Both policy and environmental changes also can help reduce disparities by improving access to and availability of healthy food in under-served neighborhoods and communities.”

This is a solid first step in working to remove those barriers. Society of St. Andrew volunteers know there is, literally, a hunger for the fresh fruits and vegetables we bring into underserved communities. Food dollars (whether SNAP benefits or a too-small pension check or a minimum-wage paycheck) don’t go far enough to include the very foods recommended by the USDA. And too many communities lack access to full-service groceries, meaning residents options are often limited to the refined foods the USDA hopes to discourage.

Society of St. Andrew will continue our work to bring healthy food to those most in need, and we urge policy makers to begin the hard work of removing barriers to the healthful food choices that make healthy people.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a current contributor to this News & Events blog.


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In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

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How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

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